20 Easy Vegetarian Weeknight Dinners
Whether you are trying out a meatless Monday or you are a committed vegetarian, it is not always easy coming up with new and delicious meatless meals.
With this list you’ll discover a whole new range of flavors and meal variety, but most importantly you won’t feel the need to resort to expensive boxed and frozen vegetarian dinners.
For any season, any mood, any skill-level, or any budget, these recipes have got you covered!
1. Broccoli Tofu Stir-Fry
If you are craving Chinese food, but your wallet is feeling a little thin, then make this at-home vegetarian replica. Serve with brown rice or quinoa for a perfect balance of protein, grains, and vegetables. The best part: this can be prepared in 30 min. Also, feel free to add any other veggies you have hanging around, from bell peppers to water chestnuts, the world is your oyster!
Are you feeling like breakfast for dinner but don’t want to make scrambled eggs for the 5000th time? Try my favorite recipe for Shakshuka! It is an Israeli breakfast that consists basically of cooked eggs in flavorful tomato sauce. This is a perfect dish if you love a slightly runny yolk. Before serving, top with a sprinkle of your favorite feta cheese or parsley and grab a hunk of almost-stale bread to soak up all the great sauce!
3. Butternut Squash Ravioli
When you see a package of leftover wonton wrappers in the back of your refrigerator you would probably never think of a luscious Italian pasta dish… right? After trying this recipe you absolutely will though! Making easy ravioli using wonton wrappers is a super inventive way to utilize fairly cheap ingredients and transform them into a classy 5-star Italian dinner. Also, this recipe includes a brown butter sauce, which is practically the easiest, most delicious thing to make ever. I would actually drink it. Well… maybe not.
4. Vegetarian Burgers
Honestly there are many good frozen veggie burgers, but you never know what goes into making those and they can get really expensive. An easier alternative is to make one of the seven recipes listed below, form them into patties, and stick them in the freezer in airtight plastic bags. The next time you get a burger craving just grab one out of the freezer for dinner in minutes! Also, these burgers are great because these ingredients are less expensive than ground beef, and you can usually use up some random vegetables or beans you have lying around. For some delicious veggie burgers try one of these:
- Your classic, simple black bean quinoa burgers
- Black bean corn burgers with avocado crema
- White bean burgers with tomato-olive relish
- BBQ sweet potato chickpea burgers
- Eggplant burger with hummus
- Falafel burger with yogurt dill sauce (if you just want falafel, find a great recipe in this Teen Insider Mag article here)
- Mushroom lentil burger with goat cheese and arugula
(BONUS: If you are a pescatarian, but still want to reduce red meat consumption, try some of my favorite fish burgers: salmon burgers with tartar sauce, classic tuna burgers, or salmon cakes with miso sauce )
5. Roasted Veggie Grilled Cheese
This is a delicious comfort food that provides all the cheesy goodness you want, while still getting in a good serving of veggies (I recommend meal prepping the vegetables before hand and using them throughout the week for an even quicker cook time at the end). If you do prep the veggies prior, this dinner can be ready in ten minutes. No lie. To put that in perspective: That’s the same length as a passing period between classes in school.
6. Pesto Quinoa Power Bowls
This sounds like something off of a restaurant menu, and it will taste like one too! This pesto is featured in another Teen Insider article about sustainable cooking, and it is an absolutely delicious way to use up any leftover green veggies. The quinoa is a great grain to use, as it packs a great punch of protein, but feel free to supplement with other grains. The assorted veggies, whether they be roasted or raw, provide a nice pop of color and flavor, and the protein of your choosing really adds to the customizability of this dish. This recipe is my personal favorite version of this dish, as it uses delicious roasted chickpeas and vegetables.
7. Pasta e Fagioli
Pasta? Beans? Now that sounds like a party! Then, when paired with an umami-bomb of a broth and some of your favorite Italian flavors, this dish just reaches next-level delicious. This recipe was also created by one of my favorite chefs, Carla, from Bon Appetit’s test kitchen, so I couldn’t be happier.
8. Black Bean Tostadas
This dinner is super filling and customizable, making it ideal for a weeknight get-together. This satisfies any cravings for Mexican food and packs a punch of undeniably smoky flavor. The beans and cheese provide useful protein, and the tortilla is a perfect crispity-crunchity base for your array of delicious toppings. This is my preferred recipe, but if you are in a rush and need an even faster option, try this recipe out.
9. Lemony Kale and White Bean Soup
This is a super comforting meal, especially on cold Chicago nights, yet also exceedingly refreshing. You can replace the kale with any sort of dark, leafy green you have on hand, and you can replace the white beans with any other can of beans you have left in your pantry. Also, if you make your own veggie broth, as recommended in this Teen Insider article, you can make this soup even more flavorful!
10. Quick Sesame Ginger Noodles
This refreshing recipe is just two simple ingredients doused in a fantastic sauce. Now you can achieve these luxurious levels of flavor without putting in much time or money. This is one of the quickest meals to put together on this list, so it is perfect when you are in a pinch, and the ingredients are easily accessible, even at your local corner store. This dish is so fantastic and light on its own, but I recommend adding a fried egg on top to really round out the dish.
11. Avocado and Egg Spaghetti Squash Bowls
Spaghetti squash is such an underrated vegetable, but it is just really…. awesome. From the flavor, to the unique texture, to the vibrant color, anything you make with spaghetti squash will be hearty, delicious, and beautiful, especially these bowls! The cook time is a little long, but the prep time is super short. You can just pop this in the oven and let it cook while you finish your homework! In 50 minutes you will be greeted with a delicious weeknight meal, including one of my favorite berries, avocado (…and yes avocados are berries). Fill up your spaghetti squash with whatever fillings you are in the mood for; from eggs to black beans to vegetarian “meat” crumbles.
This dish is perfect because it is incredibly seasonal right now, and it will immediately transport you to a French countryside veranda. As summer approaches, zucchini, juicy red tomatoes, and summer squashes will become readily available in most farmers markets near you, making this the perfect time for you to whip together this French classic.
13. Chickpea Curry
The best thing about this dish is honestly how quickly it comes together. With just a few cheap ingredients, and a super low cook time, this is the best vegetarian meal for when you just feel like binging some Netflix and relaxing after a long, exhausting day. If you are a fan of the Chana Masala at your local Indian restaurant, then you will love this!
All you need are a few pantry staples, some spices, and any veggies you want to throw in. If you need a recipe, try this simple one with only 3 steps.
14. Spaghetti Pomodoro
This is really just a fancy way of saying you are eating spaghetti with marinara, the classic kid’s menu dish that was always an old standby. This version however is so much fresher and more luxurious than any other spaghetti and marinara combo you were stuck eating. With just a few pantry staples you can whip up this beautiful, simple pasta dish in just minutes! Because of these simplified ingredients this is a super cheap weeknight meal for the whole family too.
15. Orecchiette (pasta) with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese
Now if you want to get bougie this is another absolutely delicious pasta recipe that will make you feel even more elevated than the spaghetti recipe above. With just a few more ingredients, and not really any extra time, this is a great dish to add to any pasta-lover’s repertoire! Whip out this beautifully buttery orecchiette at any family picnic, perfect for a celebratory summer night surrounded by loved ones.
16. Red Lentil Dhal
Taking a break from all of the European recipes, this is another stand-out Indian classic that just so happens to be vegetarian. Lentils are an amazing source of nutrition and protein in any meatless diet, and this recipe infuses the red lentils with so much flavor that you will absolutely not miss out on meat. Also, make sure to not feel intimidated by the long list of ingredients; it is mostly spices! When making your own dhal feel free to mix-and-match whatever spices you have on hand to make it just the way you like it. Get creative in the kitchen, and whip together this amazing dinner in just 30 minutes!
17. Soba Noodles with Tofu and Miso Dressing
This noodle dish sounds incredibly high-end, but again is just a few pantry ingredients and three simple recipe steps that result in a wonderful, filling dinner for the entire family (or just you and your friends at a summer potluck). Soba noodles aren’t often given the credit they deserve, but when they get dressed up in this zesty and umami dressing they really shine in the spotlight!
18. Crustless Quiche
If you have ever flipped through a fancy French cookbook you may have seen a long, complicated recipe for homemade quiche that involved the always-difficult task of making a pie crust. This amazingly simple recipe completely cuts out that step and instead provides you will an easy, and incredibly cheap, crustless quiche bursting with flavor. Also this is a completely customizable base that you can fill with any veggies or cheeses you want to use up! Quiche is absolutely not just for breakfast anymore.
I think people often forget that Mexican food is so much more than just tacos and burritos! There is such a variety of recipes to try out and experiment with that utilize those same traditional Mexican ingredients to make wonderful weeknight dinners, these enchiladas being one of them. One of the best parts about this dinner is also that you can make a lot of it and then bring it’s flavor-packed goodness with you for lunch the next day!
20. Pad See Ew
You made it through the entire list! Congratulations! I thought we would end with my personal favorite Thai dish, Pad See Ew. This recipe consists of essentially the most delectable sauce ever that coats thick, luscious noodles, and crispy tofu. For me this is just the perfect dish, with just enough spice, zest, sweetness, and savoriness to satisfy all my taste buds during any day of the week and any month of the year. Serve up this delicious vegetarian Pad See Ew on a warm summer night at the beach, or on a cold fall night under a blanket, and I can guarantee it will bring a smile to your face.
I know this was a lot of information to take in, but if you keep this list with you as the seasons change, your lifestyle changes, and your living situations change, you will always have some fantastic standby recipes for any weeknight dinners that are still great for your health, the environment, and yet even better for your taste buds!